Applied Interactives

Applied Interactives in Silhouette

Applied Interactives was an artist-based non-profit organization that was founded in Chicago in 2001. Its primary mission was to propagate virtual reality technologies and art into the exhibition spaces of galleries and contemporary art museums as well as into the hands of individual artists. Its secondary mission was to continue to develop an art lab (a physical space) where artist members and visitors can work collaboratively on large scale or immersive artworks that make use of a range of interactive technologies.

To this end, Applied Interactives developed a portable virtual reality system that the group dubbed the VR Portal. The VR Portal is a modular virtual reality installation system which includes an immersive screen, head-tracked 3D computer graphics and real-time interactivity. In 2002, the VR Portal was used to display the artwork of several Chicago based VR artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art (versionfest<02) in Chicago, at the Block Museum in Evanston, IL, and at the Murphy Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. The large screen of the VR Portal gives participants a feeling of total immersion into the virtual worlds created by the artists. Its tracking system matches the visual display to the user's perspective so that when they move their head, the virtual world shifts in accordance with the new perspective.

Applied Interactives had a goal of breaking down barriers of what people consider art to be. Recognizing the challenge of convincing art institutions to take the leap into supporting virtual reality art forms, Applied Interactives actively pursued the development of new software and hardware systems that would allow these institutions to exhibit VR and interactive art as readily they do any conventional art media.


Applied Interactives is currently inactive and no longer a non-profit organization. With all founding members pursuing careers outside of Chicago, the sad decision was made to close our doors. The work of Applied Interactives is still being exhibited across the country, and many of its past members and collaborators continue to use its research to create tele-immersive art. Thanks for all the supporters out there who've helped us in so many ways to accomplish so much! The following is a listing of our past collaborators.


Geoffrey Allen Baum is a founder of Applied Interactives and finally received his MFA in Electronic Visualization from the Electronic Visualization Laborarory at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2005. As both an artist and technologist, his interests converge at a point between artistic process, scientific discovery and junkyard hacking; searching for ways to make virtual reality and other immersive experiences less expensive and more common for other artists and the larger public. His own work, which has been exhibited at Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria) and Version>02, Museum of Contemporary Art - Chicago, among others, concerns itself with idea of the individual as the center of these private universes and plays with the creative power - the mythology and legends - of how humanity situates itself in any reality. He is currently employed as a researcher at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory where he has pursued research in camera tracking, spatialized sound and the repurposing of affordable commercial devices for use in Virtual Reality systems. Currently, Baum is leading Applied Interactives and a group of faculty and students from the School of the Art Institute, Electronic Visualization Laboratory and Columbia College in an project entitled 'Synthecology' which will be exhibited at the WIRED NEXTfest in Chicago, Illinois in June of 2005. He is looking for future employment.

Todd Margolis is an artist, educator and technologist. In 2004, he received his MFA in Electronic Visualization from the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago. he is a founding member of the immersive and interactive art and technology non-profit organization, Applied Interactives, and also a member of the art collaborative Sine::apsis Experiments. Margolis is currently the Technical Director of the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) at UCSD. Margolis was previously a Visiting Research Programmer at UIC, developing a new virtual reality system, The Varrier(tm) Auto-Stereographic display. Results of this research were presented at the SPIE 2001 conference, "Photonics West" and the system was presented at the IEEE VR converence on March 29, 2004. Margolis had frequently lectured on new media at UIC, Columbia College, Chicago, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as shown his work nationally and internationally, in such venues as Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria), Art Chicago, ICC (Tokyo, Japan), ISEA (Paris, France) and SIGGRAPH (LA and New Orleans). As an artist-in-residence at (art)n Laboratory, he participated in the creation of a permanent art installation at Chicago's Midway Airport. He was also awarded the 2000 Christian and Oline Larsen Scholarship for Electronic Visualization and had been the recipient of a UIC Research Assistantship from 1998 till 2003.

Keith Miller is currently living in Wellington, New Zealand, and working as a Technical Director with Weta Digital on various film projects. Before leaving the United States, he was an instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a member of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL). He additionally collaborated with (art)n Laboratory as the Technical Director, developing 3D models and graphic content for vintage PHSColograms. he was a co-founder and longtime contributor to Applied Interactives, and his personal and collaborative works have been shown throughout the United States and internationally. Exhibitions include various SIGGRAPHs, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the International Center of Photography (New York), Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria), Art Chicago, and the Wiesman Art Museum (Minneapolis).

Tim Portlock is a MFA graduate of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He also holds an MFA in art and design, from the University of Chicago. For the past several years, he has been an active muralist, studio painter and art instructor. In 1997, Portlock was awarded the Gdansk, Poland Millennium mural award. He is currently working on several virtual reality projects, such as Virtual Harlem, and is lead designer for the DuSable project, which is a mixture of improvisational theater within a virtual reality space.

Past Members

Frank Crist is a writer and teacher living in Chicago. His writing is focused on interactive worlds, worldbuilding, and fiction. He teaches database programming, PHP programming, and the Linux operating system at Columbia College, Chicago. He has been the editor on Hair Trigger, the Columbia College literary journal, F Magazine, a magazine of novels-in-progress, and his own literary anthology, My Angels & My Demons at War. He holds a B.A. in Fiction Writing from Columbia College, and is an candidate for a combined M.F.A. / M.A. in Creative Writing and Teaching Writing from Columbia College.

HyunJoo Oh's works involve improvisational network sound, cartographic sciences, self-organized and distributed social softwares, Virtual Reality and holography. She investigates the artistic gesture of impacting human coexistence, bridging the analog/digital and online/offline divide with an emphasis on accessibility of technological-social infrastructure. Oh is currently working on several virtual reality projects, such as 'Inside/Outside System II' and 'Nodule Resonance' and has been a teaching assistance of the Immersive Environment course(VR) at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Oh joined several art groups, such as the post-production team of the Chicago Millennium Park Fountain Project (a permanent public art installation), Applied Interactives and Dottedquad and her works have been shown in Versionfest>04 (Chicago, IL), IMMEDIA (Ann Arbor, MI), OpenEnd Art, Polvo, Buddy and 1926 gallery.(Chicago, IL) She holds a B.F.A (2002) in Philosophy and Art Education from the SungKyunKwan University in Seoul, Korea and M.F.A (2005) in Art and Technology studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. More information on her website.

Andrew Zoechbauer is a designer working in Chicago. Having recently graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago receiving a BFA with emphasis in visual communication and art & technology, he now spends his time creating motion graphics and interactive as well as traditional print design. Project Altria, a virtual reality environment exploring the imbalance of information available to consumers on the one side, and producers/marketers on the other, was shown in the school’s 2004 undergrad show. He is interested in exploring the tremendous possibilities offered by combining information graphics with immersive, realtime 3D visualization technologies.

Sabrina Raaf is a Chicago-based artist who works in both experimental sculptural media and photography. She is a producer of creative machines—machines that independently make art when cross-pollinated with human interaction. Her work was exhibited in 2002 in the Here and Now show at the Chicago Cultural Center, in Postflesh at California State University in Sacremento, CA, and 'Sense Data' at the Painted Bride Center in Philadelphia, PA. She exhibited recently in the Sculpture in Chicago Now exhibition (2002) curated by Adam Brooks and Cory Postiglione, at the Fassbender Gallery in :::Interface: Exploring Possibilities:::, 2001, and at the Block Museum in the Immersive Art Symposium,2001. In 1999 she exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, DC) and at the Chicago Cultural Center. She is the recipient of a 2002, Creative Capitol Grant in Emerging Fields and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship (2001). She received an MFA in Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. Sabrina is currently a tenure-track professor in the Photography Department of Columbia College in Chicago.

Jerem Sloan is a film, video and sound artist. He has worked on a number of independent films, two of which were showcased and received awards at the Chicago Asian-American Film Festival in 1999. His personal work has been shown in a group show (Electraslip Knife, 2000), and he has helped develop a video and web package with CNN about Native American languages. He has been doing video documentation for Applied Interactives and is the first collaborating artist to join their team. He believes this partnership will help further his desire to combine art and technology in a common voice to the public.

Contributing Artists

Sarah Attwood is a graduate of Art and Technology from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is doing image and video processing with Applied Interactives for the Special Treatment project.

Helen-Nicole Kostis is a media artist that works with video, animation, virtual environments, physical and digital sculpture. She is captivated by the creation of new, synthetic worlds, immersive bodily experiences, the combination of virtual and physical realities and the discourse that is generated by their coexistence. Born in 1976, lives and works in Chicago, USA. She has received a BS in Mathematics (1998) from the University of Ioannina, Greece, a MS in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and is currently pursuing a Master's in Fine Arts at the same institution. She currently works as a Research Assistant at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL), University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She has exhibited at the Canariasmediafest International Video and Multimedia Festival of the Canaries (2002), Version>03 :: Digital Arts Convergence - Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (2003), IDEAS Festival (2003, 2004), IEEE VR Open House at EVL (2004), Networks Art and Collaboration Conference (2004), Electronic Visualization Exhibit (2004), Virtual World.s Festival Sao Paolo - Brazil (2004), Studio 74 Artful Object (2004), in Electronic Imaging Science and Technology, SPIE (2005) and in "Loose Minds in a Box" AG Art Performance (2005). Upcoming exhibit at SIGGRAPH (2005) in the Emerging Technologies for the"Loose Minds in a Box" AG Art Performance.

Hyeyun Park is an MFA candidate in Electronic Visualization Laboratory, UIC. She received a Diploma in Fine Art in Oriental Painting from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea in 2000. She had work experiences as Assistant of Public Relations at SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System) Broadcasting Company and Developer of Children's education departments at Dacom I-Elite in Korea. She currently works as a Research Assistant at EVL, assisting Audio/Video support. Her interests include real-time interactive media art, computer graphics, painting, interactive installation and VR art. Currently, she has developed a variety of other subjects, such as digital abstracts which open up entirely new vistas for the imagination. Her background combining fine arts and media production gives her a unique perspective on using all media for artistic expression.

Ben Chang is a Chicago-based new media artist whose work explores interactivity, collaboration, immersive worlds, and the creative subversion of technology. His installation, online, and performance work has been shown across the US and internationally, including the International Electronic Language Festival in Brazil, Boston CyberArts, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, SIGGRAPH, and the New Forms Festival in Vancouver. He teaches courses in interactive art and virtual reality at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Dan St. Clair makes installations and performances focused on our daily experiences of mediated sound. Recent projects include an outdoor audio installation of synthesized birds singing popular melodies, and a muzak map of State Street Chicago. As a pianist/instrumentalist he has performed with Phill Niblock, Grand Mal, White Blue Yellow and Clouds, and Anthony Braxton. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2004 after studying media art with Ron Kuivila and composition with Anthony Braxton. He is now in the MFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Robb Drinkwater

Jon Greene created the Flash interface for Synthecology. He recently graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Photography. Aside from photographing, he spends a lot of time programming. As of late, Jonathan has been focusing on the internet as a medium for creating collaborative art. He is always looking for new ways to create art on the web. This summer, he will be turning his personal web endeavor into a web design firm located in Chicago.

Marientina Gotsis is a new media artist and uber geek interested in gestural interfaces, dance, introspective narratives and precolombian art. She manages several facilities and assists with research at the Interactive Media Division of the School of Cinema-Television at the University of Southern California. In the past ten years she has run her own consulting business catering to small and medium business and not-for-profit organizations with service offerings ranging from design to technical writing and information architecture to server and network deployment and administration. She moved to Los Angeles from Chicago in 2003 where she received an MFA in Electronic Visualization in 2003 and a BFA in Photo/Film/Electronic Media in 1999 from the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1995 to 1996. She has taught many art and technology courses at Harold Washington College (Chicago), Columbia College Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University and at the University of Southern California. She is affiliated with the oXymoros Dance Theatre in New York and The Free School Project in Athens, Greece.

Bino & Cool are VR artists and researchers in visualization at KTH in Stockholm, as well as creators of the VR art applications Yggdrasil and Giza. They are additionally founders of the VR company Virtual Rules.

Hong Lim

Institutional Collaborations

Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago
(art)n Laboratory